Nightly News | February 21, 2012
>>> we mentioned this next story at the top of the broadcast. there's a report tonight that the first of the debris from the earthquake at fukushima, japan, has arrived on our west coast . first word of this story broke earlier today. all we have for hard evidence, in addition to what people have seen for themselves and examined are some still pictures sent to king tv, our nbc station in seattle. and for starters, we thought we would ask our own experts on this if this could possibly be that same debris. so with us here in the studio, our chief environmental affairs correspondent anne thompson , and veteran nbc news foreign correspondent ian williams , who's been based on the pacific rim and who, by the way, spent over a month reporting in and around fukushima. both with us here in new york tonight. welcome to you both. anne, first environmentally, we've been talking about the mass and its traveling speed. could this be that?
>> well, it's possible, but highly unlikely. at least that's noaa says. there's a scientist in seattle, or washington state who believes this is debris in the tsunami, in large part because there was a buoy that was made in japan. but noaa says these buoys have washed up on the coast for many, many years and it would have had to travel almost at in a direct line for 23 miles a day to hit the west coast . the debris is coming but it's not supposed to reach our shores until early next year.
>> if this is not it, it will get here at some point. is there any way it couldn't happen, given the volume of what you saw roll into the sea?
>> the statistics are staggering. by some estimates 500,000 buildings were either destroyed or damaged by the tsunami. just to give you an idea of that, that's equivalent to half the buildings in the entire city of new york . by some estimates, the tsunami generated the equivalent of a whole year's worth of trash. now, the japanese have done quite a good job in cleaning up the mess of what was left of those villagers but what they have created are mountains of debris. in those mountains, possibly toxic material, and disposing of it, burying, burning it, could take years.
>> it's a mystery discovery on the west coast . and as we say, if not now, certainly some of it will be getting here at some time.